If hiking is your cup of tea, then you won’t find many better places to holiday than Lake Maggiore.
On the Eastern side of the lake, Val Veddasca just north of Dumenza is ideal walking territory. It includes the Passo della Forcora (m 1179) where you will find tracks and paths for excursions of various levels of difficulty surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. There are many paths you can use to hike through the valleys, choosing them based on their level of difficulty and whether you’re going alone or taking your family with you.
Whatever your choice of Lake Maggiore hiking routes, however, you can be sure that you’ll be surrounded by nature. Val Veddasca is rich in vegetation and trees – beeches, birches, rhododendrons in the highest part of the valleys and hazel trees, chestnuts, hawthorns, cherry trees, lime trees, pine trees and ash trees in the lower part. Red firs, larches, maples and red oaks were planted during a relatively recent afforestation project. The underbrush is rich in ferns, sorrel and strawberries. Bears and wolves used to live in this area, while today it’s possible to meet foxes, boars, squirrels, hares, beech-martens, badgers, and dormice. Roe deer, whose population growth has been recently encouraged in the areas surrounding Luino, can be easily spotted between 300 and 1600 metres of altitude.
Alternatively another one of the great Lake Maggiore walks is to Monteviasco. Monteviasco is a tiny village on a hilltop which is only accessible by foot or cable car and is well worth a visit – it’s almost as if time has stood still there. The village has about 12 permanent inhabitants, mainly consisting of old women. There is a large car park at the foot of the hillside where you can park to start your walk from. A 200 year old path with 1400 steps then leads up to the village. The walk should take about an hour. Alternatively, you can go by cable car and then walk back. Many other well marked trails also start from this car park. (www.monteviasco.it)
On the other side of the lake, there are well-marked paths and Lake Maggiore walks starting from Cannobio which lead up into a hinterland of scenic mountain hikes and remote villages with stunning views and unforgettable views.
There is also the Fondotoce Nature Reserve on this side of the lake which has a number of well laid out paths including a self guided nature trail.
Keen hikers should also make their way to Piancavallo half an hour away from the reserve. There’s a car park here where you can start your Lake Maggiore hiking route. The route takes you along the Cadorna Line. The Cadorna Line was a defence line between Lake Maggiore and the Ossola valley. Consisting of a network of military mule tracks, trenches, artillery positions, lookout posts, logistical structures and command centres, it was built between 1916 and 1918 as a defence against a possible German – Austrian attack. These days it provides an extremely interesting historical hiking route. www.associazionelineacadorna.it
In summer the Mottarone at Stresa is also an ideal destination for walkers. Besides the two lakes that surround it, on its slopes there are several natural wonders, from the Po Valley to the Apennines and from the Alps Monviso to Monte Rosa to the series of Mischabel. In Stresa you can take the cable car to reach the station of the Alpine cableway, where you can admire the botanical garden “Alpinia.” Set in an area of 12,000 square meters, there are alpine plants and botanical attractions of rare beauty. It is actually possible to reach the highest peak from Stresa and walk along the entire route. It takes approximately 5 hours of walking, for a distance of 14 km with a climb of 1300 m.
Wherever you want to go on your Lake Maggiore walks, all the information you need to choose the path you want should be available at the local Tourist Office (Ufficio Turistico).
Alternatively, you can head to Switzerland and enjoy walking here too. One option is to take the cable car up to the summit of Monte Bre where there are numerous marked hiking trails for you to enjoy above Lake Lugano. There is something for all tastes and abilities, from a short walk through the woods to a more challenging hike up the nearby peaks.